Frequently you can hear that in civil society organisations (CSOs) in average 70% of employees are women while 70% of the leaders are men. If this is true, this means that a talented young man would be about five times more likely to achieve a leadership position than an equally talented young woman.
We wanted to know whether this is the case in many of the leading international CSOs. When looking for facts we found, much to our surprise, that hardly any information about the correlation between women in CSO staff and women in CSO leadership was publicly available. Therefore, in September 2018 we contacted the global CEOs of many of the world’s leading civil society organisations asking them to provide us with the percentage of women in their staff and in their leadership.
Here is what we know so far:
Of 30 leading international organisations…
17 provided us with data whilst the 13 remaining organisations have either declined or not replied to our requests for information. Therefore, the data for these organisations is based on publicly available information and estimates. For 3 organisations we didn’t find sufficient public information about their leadership at all.
10 committed to achieving a FAIR SHARE of women leaders. Of these, 4 have already achieved the objective and need to work on maintaining their achievement. Among the other 6, some are not too far from achieving a fair share of women leaders while others still have some way to go.
8 have a Board made up of a majority of women, 2 have parity between men and women and 19 have a majority of men. Among these, 10 organisations have only one third or less of women members and 1 doesn’t have any women Board members. For 1 organisation we couldn’t find a list of Board members.
10 have a majority of women in their Senior Management Team, 2 have parity and 15 have a majority of men. The Senior Management Teams of 6 organisations have only one third or less of women leaders. 2 Senior Management Teams don’t have any women leaders. For 3 organisations we couldn’t find information on the composition of their leadership team
7 have a majority of women in their staff, 3 have parity and 7 have a majority of men. The remaining 13 organisations didn’t provide us with the information. The organisation with the largest percentage of women staff is Civicus with 73 % while Save the Children employs the lowest percentage of women: 36%.
Ongoing questions and answers for this work:
A 70% women on staff and 70% men in leadership is the exception rather than the rule. Still there are at least 3 CSOs that employ about 70% women and there are 7 CSOs with about 70% or more men in leadership positions.
Q Will we find a higher percentage of women working in smaller CSOs being paid lower salaries?
A The difference between the organisation with the highest % of women in their staff and the one with the lowest % is surprisingly large: nearly 40%. Another surprise: 3 of the 4 organisations with the lowest percentage of women staff are children’s CSOs.
Q Why do some CSOs employ about double the percentage of women than others?
A The organisations with a lower percentage of women in their staff are more likely to fulfill the FAIR SHARE criteria than the ones with a higher percentage. This could lead to a “race to the bottom”: the fewer women you employ the fewer women leaders you need.
Q How can we avoid such a negative effect?
With our FAIR SHARE Monitor and our campaign for more women leaders we are exploring new ground. We are aware that we are still in a testing phase and that we need all the help we can get in order to develop a solid assessment tool. We ask all of you for this help: CSOs, their staff, their leaders, their partners and donors, women and men. Please come forward and make this campaign yours. Join us in securing a FAIR SHARE of women leaders in civil society.